Tom Purcell: Companion animals are bringing more joy than ever

Published 12:26 am Friday, January 8, 2021

My new puppy entered the world on Christmas and he’s already bringing incredible joy into my family – just as many dogs, cats and other bundles of joy are doing for millions during these unusual times.

I drove to Punxsutawney over the weekend to choose a Labrador puppy. Sunny, the Lab mom, and Tank, the proud Lab dad, produced nine healthy pups born, fittingly, on Christmas morning.

So cute are they, five had been claimed when I called. I had to move fast to claim one of the remaining four.

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Early the next morning, I made the two-hour drive with great anticipation. No sooner did I set eyes on one little guy, the most docile of the bunch – and no sooner did he nestle happily into my arms – than I knew I’d found my pup.

I can’t wait for him to turn eight weeks old in mid-February, so I can bring him home.

My first hope was to find a rescue dog, like my lovable childhood mutt, Jingles.

Long a Lab lover, I was hoping for a Lab mix with the affable traits of one of my best buddies, an incredible Lab/Pit mix named Stanley, who lives on a large, heavenly ranch with my friends Dan and Jen.

After hours searching and a few weeks of trying, I had no luck matching with a canine pal. When I stumbled upon a still-available litter of Lab puppies, then, I acted fast, and I’m happy I did.

During my dog search, I discovered some wonderful worldwide trends.

First, there has been increasing demand to adopt rescue animals of every kind.

Humans, isolated at home, long for the love, affection and many other benefits that companion animals bring.

In the era of social media, it’s all too easy to get lost in the narrowness of our limited points of view regarding politics and other matters, but lovable animals shatter such self-centeredness.

A few bats of puppy-dog eyes will transform anyone lost in himself to being completely concerned for the total well-being and happiness of a lovable Lab who wants his belly scratched.

A lovable animal brings out so much empathy and compassion, we’re prone to be more humane to other human beings – even those who voted for the other candidate.

Another wonderful trend: Many big-hearted people are opening their homes to rescue animals, to foster them and make sure they’re well-matched to forever homes – where they can flourish for the rest of their lives.

Third, millions of Americans are donating funds to help rescue organizations care for and place in-need animals. Giving is way up.

Even if you aren’t ready to adopt or foster, donating money to support these activities will bring you joy.

Lots of wonderful animals are waiting for their forever homes. If you’re ready to invite a bundle of joy into your home, there are many legitimate foster agencies to choose from.

Though I chose a puppy this time, I may adopt an older dog next. Older animals can have a harder time getting adopted than puppies and kittens, and adopting an older dog next would give each dog a canine companion to enjoy.

My little pup may have been born on Christmas, but as far as I’m concerned, every companion animal was.

Because they’re all precious gifts from God.

Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Email Tom at